January 2018. Companies using the word ‘Royal’ in their trade name should tread carefully. According to a recent ruling by a sub-district court in The Hague, if they haven’t obtained permission to apply the predicate ‘Koninklijk’ (English ‘Royal) to their products while giving the impression they have a royal warrant, they may be legally obliged to change their name.

Misleading trade name

Sigillis Regiis Praesidio, an organisation which was created to protect the intellectual property rights of the House of Orange, has forced a company to remove the word ‘Royal’ from its trade name. At the end of last year, the sub-district court in The Hague ruled that the name Royal Dutch Holding was misleading since the company in question had never obtained permission from the ‘Dutch King to use the predicate ‘Royal’. It therefore ordered the company to amend its name.

English ubiquitous

The court moreover concluded that the use of English had now become so ubiquitous throughout the Netherlands that the public made no distinction between the words ‘Koninklijke Nederlandse’ and the English translation ‘Royal Dutch’.

Some ‘real’ Royal companies

Not too regal

Sigillis Regiis Praesidio provisionally appears to be concentrating its disapproval on companies using the word ‘Royal’ and hence giving the impression they have obtained a royal warrant. In the case in question, this was because the company had combined the word ‘Royal’ with the word ‘Dutch’. So anyone thinking of using the word ‘Royal’ in its trade name in future should try not to give themselves too regal an air!

Bas Kist